28 November - 21 December


In today’s society we’re faced with decreasing social bonds, a new yearning for intimacy, and a constant flood of bad news leaving us longing for safe places and salvation. This sentiment is reflected in today’s visual art, seeping into the minds of creatives. A contemporary reimagining of Romanticism – an artistic and intellectual movement of the late 18thC – is shining through as we are confronted with a revival of traditional work. Artists Teresa Busuttil, Sally Craven, Chiranjika Grasby, Sian Watson, and Blood Sport have taken up the Romantic spirit. Yet, beyond the desire for the paradisiacal, beautiful, and magical, an eerie darkness is present. Through painting, illustration, video, sound, and sculpture, the artists provide an insight into a Utopia doomed for failure.

The Romantic spirit invokes a subversive trend of reaching beyond limitations, manifesting itself in the form of unearthly counter-worlds and gloomy sketches. Symbolically charged landscapes and dream visions portray a deep skepticism about rigid conventions, and a call for artistic independence. Today’s

generation of artists disrupt current social and political climates with aesthetics beyond the ordinary, forming a vocabulary of desire rooted in the historical Romantic movement.

Contemporary practice encompasses numerous variations of this theme, ranging from anamorphic creatures and their behaviors to an overwhelming blend between fantasy and reality. Sian Watson’s figures are just small fragments of an imagined ecosystem, posed and displayed like artifacts, they accumulate into herds and families or sit alone as surviving relics. Their rusted surfaces suggest a passing of time, and lift them into the visual language of archaeological discovery or historic idol. Watson’s works shift our known realities – they feel familiar at first glance, yet carry elements of the unknown. Much like the multimedia works of Teresa Busuttil, which mix fantasy with personal narrative and the lived experience of a multicultural upbringing. Common motifs throughout her works are the ocean and coastlines – seashells, waves, boats – a suggestion of journey with a gentle thread of melancholy. She tells stories through her practice, and we are given glimpses into postcard locations we’ll never visit.

Nature is reduced to a symbolic prop and lovingly paired back to its basic elements by Sally Craven. Hunks of solid plaster sit weighted to the ground, leaking amber glass like sap from a tree. Above them, glistening in the light, hang glass structures woven by fantastical spiders. They mirror morning dew on a web, hidden between towering structures awaiting unsuspecting prey. There’s a feeling of manufactured environment across Craven’s forms which is especially present through remnants of human intervention that appear accidental. These organic moments allow us to connect deeper to the work, relating ourselves to the ‘ordinary’ and ‘imperfect’. Themes that cross into the works of Blood Sport and Chiranjika Grasby. Both creating through experimentation and intuition, they form pieces that rely on a partnership with materials versus a control of them. For Blood Sport this manifests as an illustrative portfolio of fluid forms and winding paths, created via real-time responses to mark making and texture. Variables are added – such as water, surface treatments, and inks – to allow transformation and shift within the work. She creates alongside these shifts and allows them to guide her decisions, traveling through the work until its completion. On the other hand, Grasby’s materials are in the form of sound recordings and audio snippets. Produced using discarded or found materials such as glass, scrap metal, and wood, combined with clips of nature and human vocals, she creates soundscapes that accumulate into uncomfortable harmonies. Chorus’ of layered vocals and distorted hums are broken by unsettling cracks and metallic rings.

In its essence, the Romantic spirit comprises an interest in not only what is beautiful and worthy of love, but also the opposing forces that can be sinister and dark. There is an acknowledgement that a world involving only ‘good’ cannot exist, and that a negative must be present as a counterpart. One cannot exist without the other, so they must instead work to keep eachother in balance.